Spoilers will more than likely happen and this will be long.
This book had its good points but overall I just couldn’t really sink into it. The first fight in the book was just a little bit too stereotypical. Instead of me rooting for the girl I was just annoyed that out of all the fights they could be having it actually had poetry was gay. Seriously all, literally, all of the first spoken word artists I met were definitely not gay and that was over a decade ago. No one says this anymore. I’ve been breathing for four decades and I can not remember the last time someone actually said this. And if you get a gift card to a bookstore and you don’t read why do you even care. Just let her get whatever book she wants you aren’t going to read it anyway.
Next, a prince openly flirting with his bodyguard when he’s supposed to be trying to hide his sexuality. That’s just odd cause most DL people def try to pick you up in ways that seem inconspicuous or can be seen as just two guys chatting because guys do have guy friends after all. Also if Ajax was vindictive enough he could just out him. It just seemed so wrong for someone that afraid to be out, knowing his parents were in town, to flirt openly in a store with witnesses when he knew he’d be stuck with him for years maybe. At the very least months. And I feel like I must’ve skimmed over the part where Ryden’s age was mentioned but if he’s trying not to be caught out as gay surely he knows how to flirt with a woman so him being flustered about it seemed odd. Like he should be practised at faking it having had to do it in his home country for more than half his life.
Building off that, Ajax’s reaction when he finds out he’s the prince is just odd. Like he’s a professional. So the guy flirted with him. He’s an out gay man he’s flirted with lots of guys. If anything he had the one up. Him being flustered was odd. Shocked?… most definitely. But he behaved like he’d never been surprised before which is highly unlikely in his line of work.
The other thing was you know from the blurb that Ryden being royal and having to produce an heir is the sticking point of the relationship. Before even reading the first word. The number of times both he and Ajax said this was overwhelming considering we know that’s the main problem before even starting this journey.
Then there’s the poem bit. There is no way someone can be that obvious in a poem, invite you over after and have all your friends and bodyguard tell you they want you and you’re like nah he just wants to work on a project. And then when he proves this is not what he wants you go back a second time. And, don’t bother to tell your bodyguard that you’re going or that he and your friends were right about the first encounter. It’s hard to like someone that stubborn/unintelligent and it ruined the pivotal scene it produced because you could see it coming a mile away. It felt to forced. Like we need drama and tension let’s create a rescue event even if a simple ‘yeah you were right Ajax, he did want more’ could’ve prevented it. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around this when, I’m assuming he’s old enough to drink so 21 at the youngest, surely after a year or so on his own he has learned some life skills to read between the lines. He understands Shakespeare after all so he has a grasp on the intricacies of the English language.
Two inconsistencies that stand out were Ryden making a comment when he saw him in the book store. Almost like he assumed Ajax was probably book smart and this made him sexier. But Ajax is all sorts of hating the class material so why was he in the bookstore in the first place then if he isn’t booksmart at all? The only reason was so that Ryden could flirt with him and I’ve already expressed my view on that. Then when Ajax makes him breakfast later and goes to the shower Ryden eats, even scrapes the bits left over in the trash but then when Ajax asks did he eat after his shower and there is a bit of a chair malfunction, Ajax feeds him and makes a joke about not being his servant. Like the previous eating hadn’t even happened. Clearly it had as the author mentions ‘second helping’ but I still don’t see how Ajax couldn’t tell food was missing and why Ryden didn’t just come out with it.
Another one was if Ryden’s parents are spying what he does on both his phone and his laptop how is he on grindr? Apparently he has a burner phone but this is only mentioned the one time when he goes to meet that classmate he shouldn’t have seen specifically to drum up some tension because he left his real phone at the house so now Ajax had no way to contact him. Now if he was often on this other phone and it had been written into the plot for more than this one scene I’m here for it, but otherwise I”m like how is it possible if his phone is being spied on?
There were a few of the typical illogical points of drama and miscommunication that wasn’t real, it was just one of the characters refusing to pay attention to the evidence, not actually for real misinterpreting something. But one stood out, at the end, Ajax getting all jealous and stuff because Ryden is being cordial with the woman his mom hopes he marries. Seriously even if she was a regular noble he’d have to act this way. It was just like him being flustered way back in the first chapter. He’s a professional and Ryden has to keep up appearances. Why you getting mad and then even monologuing about how you know you’re overreacting?
Maybe I’m weird but it was the perfect chance for them to steal another moment later, hug, maybe cry and amicably part ways. With all the heavy emotions of something, they both believed wouldn’t work, while inwardly believing it could yet also believing it was the right choice to separate, taking all that with them as they part. That is a lot of emotional turmoil that could’ve pulled at the heartstrings of the coldest human, like real deep human emotions but instead the cliche I’m going to be mad even though I know I don’t have to be angle got taken. Sigh. We know they have to separate for the ending to work. Anyone who has read a bodyguard trope novel knows how they end but after an entire book of riding out their emotional journey something bigger and deeper would’ve been more satisfying than the overused argument which felt forced because both parties are smart enough to see the situation for what it was.
All of that being said, would I recommend this book. Yes. A lot of yes. It has a ridiculous amount of angst and drama and the constant reminder of why it won’t work. All of the ‘they aren’t really into me’ even though it’s obvious they are stuff in the beginning. It has the virgin angle as well. Enough steamy scenes to make anyone happy. The easily avoidable fights, the big climactic breakup at the end. The hero who saves the day, twice in this particular story. As far as angsty steamy romances go, this one quite literally hits every single button there is. It’s pretty perfect. I should probably give it five stars just for that. But considering when the end fight happened I barely read the last twenty percent after, and the fact that I had to battle with myself to finish reading or give this a DNF after Ajax’s reaction in chapter one and then again when Ryden couldn’t tell that really bad poem was about him, I mean everyone knew this and told him as much, considering all of that even it’s perfectly played out packaging for this specific trope wasn’t enough to get me on board.